Taylor McMurtry and Nick Granat’s careers pull them in many directions and lead them to many locations—but their love is rooted in Palm Beach County. Their affinity for horses and individual professional pursuits brought McMurtry, an award-winning rider and trainer, and Granat, an international competition course designer, together. The part-time Wellington residents were married in early January at the Flagler Museum, an event planned around the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Following the elegant nuptials, it was back to the saddle.
The newlyweds are currently involved in this year’s WEF, with McMurtry riding and Granat setting the courses for 10 of the festival’s 12 weeks. The date for their union was an optimal opportunity to gather colleagues and family in town while working around the intense schedule. They chose to hold it on a Sunday because, in the horse world, busy weekends mean that riders generally take Monday off. “It’s what our life is centered around,” says Granat, whose mother and stepfather are long-time Palm Beach residents. “All of our friends—everyone’s in the horse business. It’s a little bit like being in the circus: Once you’re in, you’re in.”
Both McMurtry and Granat began riding horses around age 8. A family trip to a dude ranch inspired her mother, Jennifer McMurtry, to return to her childhood pastime. “She got back into it, and I fell in love with it right away,” McMurtry, 27, recalls. In no time, McMurtry was in the ring with her own pony. “They’re just beautiful animals. They trust you and are dependent on you. They give us what we give them.”
The McMurtry family home in the rolling countryside of Barrington Hills, Illinois—a bucolic village northwest of Chicago with a deep equestrian heritage—was ideal for the mother and daughter. Today the duo works side by side as owners and operators of the 60-acre Windridge Farm in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, where they provide boarding, equine management, horsemanship camps, and training for riders ranging from beginners to international-level show jumpers. More recently, they’ve begun focusing on the investment side, importing young European warmbloods to train and show to establish the horses’ performance records before selling them. “We place them in a home that works for them,” McMurtry explains.
In the competition arena, McMurtry advanced at a rapid clip. Her family were Wellington regulars, and she studied online to accommodate her performance schedule. Her success unfolded with world-class training under Olympic medalists such as Chris Kappler, Norman Dello Joio, and Peter Leone.
By the time McMurtry was 13, she had competed in her first Grand Prix in Wellington, advancing on to win several Grand Prix classes and place in more than 30 big-dollar Grand Prix events. As a junior rider, she twice competed in the Pfizer Million Dollar Grand Prix in Saugerties, New York, and participated on a National American Young Riders Championship silver medal team. She became the youngest invitee at the time to the $200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational in Tampa and has been a contender in many World Cup and Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) competitions. When she’s not at the farm, McMurtry is on the road, participating in a dozen shows a year and returning to Wellington during the three-month WEF, where they bring 8 to 11 horses.
With family and clients in the region, Granat spends more time in Palm Beach County, though his career is travel-intensive. The 38-year-old touts elite credentials as an approved course designer by the North American Riders Group, United States Equestrian Federation, and FEI Level 2. He works some 30 shows a year, stretching coast-to-coast and into Canada, designing courses for the oldest horse show in the nation, Upperville Colt & Horse Show, and Ottawa International, as well as assisting at top events such as the 2017 World Cup and 2018 World Equestrian Games.
“I get to see every part of the country,” he says. “The horse world is so small, so you always see someone you know. It’s not like going to a foreign place.”
In addition, he sets the training courses at the private facilities of top international